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Although black currants are rare in most American diets, they still remain quite popular in Europe – and may be just what the doctor ordered. This deep purple – almost black – powder is jam packed with antioxidants, which have been shown to have significant health benefits. Studies show that antioxidants can prevent various types of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as slow down the aging process and protect the body's vision and neurological functions.
Until now, blueberries have long been regarded as the "king of antioxidants." Research has shown that the black currant has a much higher source of antioxidants than the blueberry and has three times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges. Black currants also contain significant amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, copper and soluble fiber. They are rich in phytochemicals called anthocyanins which are known for their outstanding anti-inflammatory benefits. Anthocyanins are the plant pigments that give black currants their dark color - the darker the fruit, the higher the amount of anthocyanin and the more antioxidant benefits available.
Compounds in black currants may help protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the current issue of Chemistry and Industry magazine.
Researchers found that these compounds, anthocyanins and polyphenolics, had a strong protective effect in cultured neuronal cells. Darker black currants contain more anthocyanins and are likely to be more potent." These compounds also work in hippocampal cells taken straight from the brain," researcher James Joseph of Tufts University said in a prepared statement. He said these protective effects will likely be reproduced in the human body and that these compounds may prevent or significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer's.
While previous research found that compounds in black currants acted as antioxidants, this is the first study to demonstrate that they may help protect brain cells. Exactly how they do this remains unclear, the study said. "We have evidence that the compounds protect against Alzheimer's by influencing the early gene expression in learning and memory, which influences cell signaling pathways that help neuronal cells communicate with each other," Joseph said.
Black currant fruits seem to have significant diuretic and diaphoretic actions, help to increase bodily resistance to infections and are a valuable remedy for treating colds and flu. Black currant powder helps to stem diarrhea and calms indigestion.